Fulbridge Academy

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Fulbridge Academy's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Fulbridge Academy is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Head teachers Mr Ben Erskine
and Mr Iain M Erskine
The academy encourages
exploration and creativity
The Fulbridge Academy is a large primary school in New
England, Peterborough. It hosts just over 130 members
of staff and has approximately 850 pupils from over
30 different countries. Principal Iain Erskine highlights the
Cambridge Primary Review (CPR), the learning environment at
the school and the school’s specialised curriculum.
From the moment we are born, we are indoctrinated into a world of measurement.
We are measured at the hospital in the first few moments of life, again by the
doctor as we grow, followed by detailed measurement in the school system from
four to 18 years. At the Fulbridge Academy our significant success comes from
embracing a world of possibility. Our inspiration comes from the simple phrase:
“Do you know a place that makes you long for childhood?”
We have created a curriculum based on an engaging learning environment and
experiences and not one based on passing SATs with a meticulous focus on data
and assessments. Data is helpful and it should inform us – but no more than that.
I have transformed a failed school to one that astounds visitors on a weekly basis
and our curriculum offer is at the centre of our success. I had a dream and I dared
to dream of the kind of learning environment and curriculum that would engage
and inspire children.
I prioritised improving the quality of leadership throughout the school and that of the
teaching and learning. Our inspiring curriculum and engaging learning environment
supports our specialised curriculum. An approach that is based on creativity – first-
hand memorable learning experiences, imagination and using the local environment.
»Head teachers: Mr Ben Erskine
and Mr Iain M Erskine
»Founded in 1935 (2013 as an
»Based in Peterborough
»Type of school: Primary school
»No. of pupils: 858
»Cambridge Primary Review
Trust Alliance School and
Whole Education Pathfinder
and Partner School from 2014
Fulbridge Academy
Highlighting best practice
The Cambridge Primary Review
Fulbridge Academy became a member
of the Cambridge Primary Review
Trust’sSchools Alliancein 2014. We
adopted the principles, priorities,
vision, aims and curriculum domains of
We started teaching, assessing and
planning by reference toCPR’s
eight curriculum domains: arts and
creativity; citizenship and ethics;
faith and belief; language, oracy and
literacy; mathematics; physical and
emotional health; place and time;
and science and technology.To
demonstrate commitment to a broad
and balanced curriculum we wanted
to assess children’s learning in
I created an approach that provides
effective assessment without
compromising our exciting and
innovative curriculum. A curriculum
which, in the words of the CPR,
“engages children’s attention,
excites and empowers their thinking
and advances their knowledge,
understanding and skill.”
Planning, teaching and assessing
are the keys to everything that
happens in our classrooms. I took the
government’s proposed freedoms as
a genuine invitation and made sure
that each part of the cycle linked to
the others, using the same criteria to
plan, teach and assess. I took away
parts of the new curriculum that the
staff didn’t want to use and added
any parts that were missing – the most
serious omission being oracy.
Many young children lack experiences.
If children learn in a language-rich,
experience-based environment, they
will be able to achieve beyond their
wildest dreams.
I followed the same process of aligning
curriculum domains and assessment
strands in the early years curriculum.
Planning, teaching and assessing
are now coherently and consistently
applied and practised from nursery to
year 6.
In basing all we are doing on the
CPR, I know that what we are doing
is rooted in sound educational
research. The staff designed an
exciting and engaging curriculum that
develops children’s personal talents
and passions. A curriculum that
gives children a broad and balanced
education. One that values the arts,
sciences, humanities, mathematics,
languages and PE in equal measure. At
our school, we use specialist staff – we
have a PE team delivering a tailor-made
curriculum and an arts and creativity
team delivering high-quality art, music,
drama and dance to all key stages.
I trust in the expertise of teachers,
and I develop them into outstanding
leaders and practitioners who have the
skills to create and teach an engaging
and inspiring curriculum offer. Children
learn better when they are excited and
engaged. What excites and engages
them most is truly excellent teaching
and an outstanding curriculum offer.
A selection of dinosaur land
models at the academy
I created an
approach that
our exciting
and innovative
The learning environment
From magnolia walls, I transformed
our corridors into themes that
reflected each term’s curriculum
focus. These are not just decoration,
but roleplay areas, places where
children can be inspired, talk and
enjoy their learning.To paraphrase the
educationalist Bill Strickland, “Beautiful
environments create beautiful people”,
and at Fulbridge we believe that
“children deserve sunshine and flowers
in theirlives
Corridors are awash with captivating
scenes, life-size models, artefacts
and memorabilia. The stimulating
and distinctive curriculum means that
children want to come to school to
experience our “truffle moments”.
These unique, immersive learning
opportunities stimulate pupils’
curiosity, arouse interest and provide
a wealth of opportunities for pupils
to develop spiritually, morally, socially
A bespoke curriculum
Fulbridge is accurately described as
“rich in social and cultural diversity”.
Many of our children do not have
the life opportunities that would
best support their learning and
I decided we needed to give them
imaginative experiences to draw
upon to enable them to put stories
into context, ones that also give
them a wide range of opportunities
to talk and write. I had to fill these
“experience, oracy and knowledge”
gaps in our pupils’ lives. This would
form the underlying basis of our
I led the design of our own bespoke
approach to the creation of our
curriculum. Training and development
were critical to ensure that staff were
able to contribute with ideas.
Regarding designing an effective
curriculum plan, my advice is to rip up
prescriptive, “off the shelf” schemes
of work and start again. Abandon
worksheets and commercial products,
as well as the booster group and
intervention mentality.
Ignore SATs training, and simply aim
for the children to become life-long
learners. For children who love maths,
music, art, reading, drama, PE, dance
and writing, we must provide them
with a “whole” education.Planning
must be based around very visual and
exciting learning experiences that
engage the children intellectually,
emotionally and physically.
All this provides the context
for outstanding creative,
emotional, academic and physical
development.Such an approach needs
to be led by highly skilled leaders who
believe in what may be possible, not
just what is measurable.
Fulbridge is
described as
‘rich in social
and cultural
The Victorian corridor at
the academy


This article was sponsored by Fulbridge Academy. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng.

Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng

This year’s Parliamentary Review reflects on a tumultuous and extraordinary year, globally and nationally. As well as being an MP, I am a keen student of history, and I am conscious that 2020 would mark the end of an era. It will be remembered as the year in which we concluded Brexit negotiations and finally left the European Union. Above all, it will be remembered as the year of Covid-19.

In our fight against the pandemic, I am delighted that our vaccination programme is beginning to turn the tide – and I pay tribute to the British businesses, scientists and all those who have helped us to achieve this. But the virus has dealt enormous damage, and we now have a duty to rebuild our economy.

We must ensure that businesses are protected. We have made more than £350 billion available to that end, with grants, business rates relief and our furlough scheme supporting more than 11 million people and jobs in every corner of the country, maintaining livelihoods while easing the pressure on employers. The next step is to work with business to build back better and greener, putting the net zero carbon challenge at the heart of our recovery. This is a complex undertaking, but one which I hope will be recognised as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Through the prime minister’s ten point plan for a green industrial revolution, we can level up every region of the UK, supporting 250,000 green jobs while we accelerate our progress towards net zero carbon emissions.

With our commitment to raise R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP and the creation of the Advanced Research & Invention Agency, we are empowering our fantastic researchers to take on groundbreaking research, delivering funding with flexibility and speed. With this approach, innovators will be able to work with our traditional industrial heartlands to explore new technologies, and design and manufacture the products on which the future will be built – ready for export around the globe.

And I believe trade will flourish. We are a leading nation in the fight against climate change. As the host of COP26 this year, we have an incredible opportunity to market our low-carbon products and expertise. Our departure from the EU gives us the chance to be a champion of truly global free trade; we have already signed trade deals with more than 60 countries around the world.

As we turn the page and leave 2020 behind, I am excited about the new chapter which Britain is now writing for itself, and for the opportunities which lie ahead of us.
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng
Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy